Existential Crisis- Here’s All You Need To Know About It!
Existential crisis is a term we have heard quite often and with a pandemic in picture and our mental health suffering the most it’s time to understand it better. Existential crisis is a situation where a person wonders if his/her life has any substantial meaning or purpose. The person might question their existence in a world that might seem meaningless.
It is common and normal to experience existential crisis. It makes you question your life’s goals which in a way is healthy. However, it might turn negative when a person is unable to find the right answers to their questions. It can affect a person’s mental health and one might have to see a doctor. Thus, we are here to help you better understand the crisis and inform you on ways to deal with it in a healthy way:
Existential Crisis Origin and Understanding
Existential crisis as defined earlier leads people to question and reflect on life’s important questions. Failure to answer those questions might lead to anxiety, panic, and feeling of worthlessness. In extreme situations a person might tend to commit suicide or other such hazardous means to get out of the situation.
It is also important to note that an existential crisis might occur after long bouts of negative emotions, depression, anxiety, or after feeling isolated for long. With Covid-19 in picture, many of us might feel isolated or stressed that might lead us to face existential crisis.
The term existential crisis is derived from the word ‘existentialism’. Existentialism is a school of philosophy that focuses heavily on the purpose of existence from human race and individual perspective. The idea behind existentialism is that the world is meaningless, and it is an individual’s responsibility to create a sense of meaning and purpose.
Types of Existential Crisis
Existential crisis is a broad umbrella term which means questioning one’s existence. However, many questions comprise a part of existential crisis. It means that people may face different issues and ask different questions all under existential crisis. Below are the types of existential crisis one may face:
The primary question surrounding an existential crisis is whether a person’s life or life in itself has any predefined meaning. Humans are designed to be productive and seek meaning in everything they do or that happens to them. Thus, meaninglessness might not appeal to them leading to existential crisis.
Earlier, this meaning came from religion, but now it may come from work, passion, traveling, or family. As long as a person finds their meaning in life, they feel satisfied.
Emotions and existence
Some try to block or avoid feelings like suffering, anger, sadness owing that this might make them negative. They focus more on happiness or tranquility and think that happiness is the ultimate purpose of life. This may lead to not giving validity to all their emotions and giving a sense of false happiness. It might make a person stay out of touch of their emotions, and if this state breaks, it may mess up with their mind causing an existential crisis.
Some might experience inauthenticity that might lead to existential crisis. A person might feel that they are not being true to themselves or have altered their principles for somebody else. This might lead to a breakdown of definitions one has a person causing anxiety, irritation, identity crisis.
Certain life events like when a person gets older, he/she might not come in terms with their own mortality. Aging, wrinkles, life threatening illnesses lead to mortality related crisis among many individuals. They might question their accomplishments and experience anxiety in facing the end of their life.
Connectedness and Isolation
Connectedness and isolation are two different terms that appear on a slider in case of humans. Humans are inherently social creatures who need social connections to meet their basic needs. However, they also need to isolate and engage with themselves and develop certainty in their ideals. Too much of connection or isolation might lead to crisis.
Being an individual means having the freedom to choose. The flip side to this is being responsible for the outcomes. The negative outcomes lead to an uncertainty or fear in taking any action. This can trigger anxiety of not just the choice, but also the outcome it might have on one’s life and existence as whole.
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It is believed that existential crisis might be linked to some important life details like:
Turning a significant age like 40 or 50
Loss of a loved one
Going through a tragedy or trauma
Experience a change in relationships like getting married or divorced
Further, existential crisis might also be linked to certain medical conditions like
Borderline personality disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Overcoming An Existential Crisis
In extreme cases it is advised to visit a doctor as soon as possible. However, if you are at the beginning of the crisis these tips might help:
Looking for one life-changing, meaningful experience might be a little unrealistic. It is advised to focus on the small things’ life offers to you. The best way is to record these valuable things in a gratitude journal. It will help you identify the moments which made you happy. Even if you don’t understand the things that you are grateful for; note down the moments in a day where you felt happy. Identifying these moments will make your life meaningful and give it a purpose.
Don’t Fall Prey To Pessimism
The thing about thoughts is they are more often that not unidirectional. If one negative thought appears others will follow and before you know it you will be filled with negative thoughts. The solution to this is simple, identify and acknowledge those thoughts and as soon as they appear think about their positive counterparts. It will be an internal battle, but definitely worth it. You can and should be in control of your thoughts make use of it.
Meditation is a boon to all your mental problems. It helps you understand yourself better and helps you calm yourself. The questions that otherwise bother you try finding their answers while you meditate. It can help you resolve the issues on your own.
At times talking your heart out is the best remedy. Talk all that is bothering you to your friend or anyone close to you. You will be surprised with the answers you get and how easy it becomes to get out of it.
Seek Medical Care
In extreme conditions it is best to seek medical advice. You might not understand it now but therapy can do wonders for your mental health. Seek a therapist, talk to them, get the necessary medical care and you will be up and healthy again. Remember just as your physical health mental health is equally important.